Introducing… Lowly Man

Ever since I started recording again, I’ve had one eye open for potential collaborators. I can write music, it’s just that coming up with ideas is a very slow and random process for me. The solo Long Division album took 3 years, start to finish.

It had always been easier to compose with a collaborator. Cloudburst and Back to the Grind were good examples of this. I have several albums’ worth of original demos from the 80s. We would bring scraps of music to recording sessions, bounce ideas and suggestions around, and have something resembling a song later that day.

Andy Bell was an occasional observer at Cloudburst rehearsals. He was a keen guitarist and songwriter, and went to the same school as us. We reconnected a few years ago, through the wonder of social media, and shared a few beers at Darrener reunions. This year, he sent me a recording of one of his old acoustic guitar compositions, and said, “see what you can do with this.”

I think he was expecting me to noodle over the top with an electric guitar. What actually happened was that I beat-mapped and pitch-shifted the recording, and dropped it into a DAW. A couple of days later, I’d added drum sampler, bass sampler, electric 12-string, Strat and SG tracks.

It was as much an exercise in recording, production and mixing as it was in composition. The bones were already there, I just had to put flesh on them. But it was fast, and we were pleased with the result. I think we both knew that we would be doing more.

So, a few weeks later, I was sent another short acoustic piece. This time, we were more ambitious, and it started to morph into a full-length track. I was delighted when Andy announced he was going to attempt to sing on it, despite being very much a guitarist first. Andy named it Lowly Man.

I had produced my first complete song since Worm Pizza in 2003. I suggested we changed Andy Bell & Keith Nuttall to something a bit shorter. My wife suggested a hybrid, made from our names, like K/andy. So we agreed on K(andyb)all. Two songs later, we went for something a little less K-Pop, and something a little more fitting. We chose the title of our first song, Lowly Man.

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